Chuck Horning, the principal owner of the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., has raised sharp questions about the planning for the facility, and has hinted that he would not honor commitments made by previous Telski owners to convey the land for the sports center, if he is not satisfied that it is viable.
Further complicating the picture: The sale by the Mountain Village Owners Association of Lots 50/51 for a major new hotel is scheduled to close on Nov. 15, with the start of construction possible any time after that. The proposed sports facility is planned to share an entrance to underground parking with the hotel, a circumstance that is driving the timeline for approval and construction of the Sports Facility. Meanwhile, late last week, Horning removed Jim Wells, the longtime chairman of the boards of both the Mountain Village Metro District and the Owners Association, from his seat on the Owners Association board.
Horning took the action of firing Wells, a former owner of Telski who had remained on the company payroll precisely to occupy one of Telski's three seats on the Owners Association board, over the disagreement surrounding the sports facility. Horning and his representatives have stated in interviews and public comments that the facility has not been properly planned either in terms of its projected financial operating deficit or its amenities. Wells, who largely oversaw that planning, did not agree.
In Wells's place on the Owners Association board, Horning appointed Telski VP of Operations Jeff Proteau. And with Wells's removal from the Owners Association board, the board's first item of business on Wednesday was to name Penelope Gleason, an owner of The Boot Doctors, its new chair.
In a statement issued by Gleason on Wednesday, Wells is characterized as regretting Telski's decision "at such a critical time in the evolution of the Village Center."
"Wells' experience and perspective over the past two decades has guided and nurtured the remarkable evolution of Telluride into a world-class resort," the statement reads. "This abrupt decision by Mr. Horning will certainly create a leadership void for the property owners and taxpayers in Mountain Village, as the Board struggles to replace Wells after 17 years as President and Chairman."
The statement goes on to quote Wells: "I understand the business end of our visitor economy. I have always tried to look at the big picture and the long term economic health of every business owner, second homeowner and resident. I value their trust in my judgment and believe that I was elected President and Chair of MVOA to bring us all together. I am disappointed that Mr. Horning feels [Telski's] goals and objectives are out of step with my desire to build a solid, sustainable economy for each and every stakeholder invested in the future of Mountain Village."
For his part, Horning has said that Telski has a responsibility to the community to be certain that the Sports Facility meets community objectives and is financially sound. To that end, Proteau told the joint board meeting Wednesday, Telski has retained consultants to review the planning for the facility. Those consultants will meet with the consultants who did the original plans for the facility this week, and the two consultant groups will present their findings to the joint boards next Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in the Telluride Conference Center.